Cruz Del Sur
8/8/2008 - Review by: Raising Iron
Dantesco are an epic/traditional metal band from Puerto Rico with a unique flair for creating loping riff-based metal songs with a certain culturally native vibe ringing throughout. I suppose that's not surprising considering they are from an island in the Caribbean. This album, "Pagano", is their sophomore effort and a commendable one at that.
Two things are bound to throw the virgin listener of these guys for a head spin right off. First, the singing is entirely in their native Spanish tongue, save for one of the two bonus tracks, sung in English, if you happen to have the European issue containing them. That's by no means a bad thing, but we all know there are those who will immediately discount an album if they can't understand what's being said. Second, the vocal styling itself is, to say the least, unique. When the singer (Erico La Bestia), sings in his typical clean tenor, he sounds like some kind of opera singer. Literally, at first listen I wondered if Placido Domingo was behind the mic. I've heard comparisons made to Messiah Marcolin of Candlemass, but the similarity there resides only in the way vibrato is used, and that is it. Now, when Erico goes for the higher registers, his voice becomes a straight forward power metal rasp so closely sounding to Chris Boltendahl from Grave Digger it's eerie. Yes, the vocals are that crazily varied, believe me.
On to the music itself and you're getting old school Manilla Road, Omen, Tyrant, etc., compositionally and tonally speaking. There really aren't any traces of doom, as some have claimed. At least that is the case regarding this release. Songs reside in mostly a mid-paced realm with speedier parts revving up from time to time, keeping things fresh. A couple of balladic, acoustical songs also reside on this disc, and hearing them you really will feel like you've been transported to 17th century Spain. The production is a bit lacking in the bottom end, but a clear mix stands out behind the vox.
Give this one a chance. It actually takes a bit for all the nuances to sink in, and I found it to be a bit too long at 72 minutes counting the bonus tracks, making it that much tougher to digest. But surprisingly, I've been coming back to this album more than I thought I would upon first listen. Getting used to the vocals is still a challenge, but something about the primitive way the songs come across is quite compelling, a weirdly charm existing here that propels these islanders above many of their peers.
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